No matter how experienced you are in your job, there are certain things you should never, ever say to your boss. We’re not talking about obvious stuff (as in don’t use offensive language, make fart noises or talk about how crazy wasted you got last night).
We’re talking about things that will make you seem like a high-maintenance type or a whiner. If your workplace demeanor comes off like one of the raving screechers on Real Housewives, it’s time to pipe down and eat some humble pie.
As you start your first job after college, here are five things that should never leave your lips when talking to the boss:
- “That’s not my job.” Guess what, Sparky? Whatever your boss tells you to do is part of your job. You may not like it, and you can express your displeasure in a respectful and calm manner. But that statement is a huge no-no. As is this alternate version: “That’s not in my job description.” If you have a job description outlining your duties, chances are there’s a catch-all item at the end — something like, “And any other reasonable requests related to the job.” That means you have no argument. If you are faced with a task that you find objectionable, and a calm discussion with your boss doesn’t fix the problem, quietly seek employment elsewhere. Throwing a tantrum about what your job is or isn’t won’t help you.
- “I can’t work with so-and-so.” Office harmony can be elusive, even at the best companies to work for. Conflicts — whether based on personalities or the work itself — can be a huge office distraction and lead to bickering. The boss doesn’t want to hear it. The boss wants to hear you making every effort to get the mission accomplished. If you do that, and the other person doesn’t, you have that much more ammunition when the conflict is addressed.
- “Well, obviously.” You might as well say “Well, DUH!!!” You might be smarter than the boss, or maybe you just think you are. Regardless, don’t try to make anyone you work with feel dumb, because you only look pompous doing it. The same goes for “That’s a given.” No, it’s not, because your supervisor thought it was worth discussing.
- “But that’s how we’ve always done it.” This is especially foul when dealing with a new boss, or a newcomer to the company. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out the history of the company’s ways, but don’t present it as a blockade. Instead, try, “We’ve typically done it this way, but we can certainly try some different approaches to it.” Being open to new ideas and techniques can show your flexibility.
- “My bad.” When you make a mistake at work — and we all do it — own up to it. Acknowledge that the mistake was yours, and if necessary, apologize for it. Discuss ways you can avoid making the same mistake again. Ask for input on these thoughts. But never toss off the ultra-casual “My bad,” or an insincere “sorry.” Good bosses don’t want to make employees feel bad. They want to help get the best out of you and the team. Saying “My bad” shows you’re not really serious about quality or improvement, and that’s a major red flag.